Lucy & Hannah's Adventures!
Hi all! Hope everyone's warm and well wherever you all are! We've now been in Japan a whole week, though it feels more like a month with the amount we've been up to! The last few days have been spectacular with the Tanabata festival going on. It's the enormous Star Festival which takes place over 3 days every summer in Sendai and which the city is famous for. It kicked off with a 2-hour long firework display on Saturday evening (putting England's measly 15-30 minute offerings to shame!) We went dressed in full yukata (a lighter cotton kimono) which was fantastic as I'm sure you can imagine! It was actually extremely comfortable, despite the fact that they're pulled quite tightly with cardboard underneath the obi to hold it straight (and a towel in my case to fatten it up a bit!) I particularly enjoyed almost getting suffocated to death in the crush as J, Richie and I tried to get closer to the fireworks, but after about 30mins without movement (or air!) I came out in tact, with my yukata miraculously still attached and another hour's worth of fireworks to enjoy... :) We ended the evening on a rooftop with a beautiful view across the city (and of course more food!) I was admired for kneeling so politely in the proper Japanese custom, but quickly opted for less-polite-more-comfortable when told that it apparently makes your legs get fat! ;) Since I last wrote we've enjoyed 3 Japanese Onsen (or 'naked experiences' as Han G has named them!) These are the natural hot spring mineral baths overlooking stunning landscapes that you find all over Japan. They really are amazing (once you get over the fact that you have to get naked! But we're absolutely embracing it now!) You can really pamper yourself afterwards too as there are various lotions and potions to test out (we did manage to apply body scrub to our hair rather than shampoo, but it's all part of the fun!) And there are some crrrazy massage chairs, which are amazing (if a little scary) to sit in, but very amusing to watch - it looks as though you're being beaten up by a chair! We've also enjoyed a wide variety of weird and wonderful culinary specialities...the sushi restaurant that James recommended us was amazing! We got a little daring, sampling whale (my favourite), octopus, scallop, FATTY tuna and FATTY salmon (yes it was written like that on the menu - they clearly knew I was coming!) and many others. Han G didn't shy away either, bravely (one might almost say stupidly..) volunteering to try raw quail's egg with fermented bean curd...! And yes, from the video footage I have of her almost gagging, I think it's safe to say that it was as appetising as it sounds (although James you may disagree!) In fact we've done soooo much eating here! We enjoyed a five-hour long marathon at Suzuki-San's house (the tea-lady from Jonathan's old school) and a good 3 hours at Osami and Hidago's house (these people just keep on feeding us!) so our stomachs are getting a lot of exercise...I'm still at a loss to see how everyone here stays so thin! Hannah G's favourite has definitely been 'tororo', which is eaten with cold noodles. It's a strange, enormous root vegetable from which you can get some sort of extract which can only be described as slime. It actually tasted quite nice, but I did get put off when little Han kindly announced that it reminded her of phlegm! It was made even less attractive when Hannah G managed to catapult some all down her leg and the waitress brought her a towel to wipe it off as quickly as possible as if it touches the skin it causes strong irritation and itching! This put me in a bit of a dilemma: over here it's actually polite to make a lot of noise when you eat, so Osami was encouraging us to slurp as loudly as possible, but doing this without sending toxic slime all over your face is a little difficult! All in all it was an interesting and memorable experience but I don't think we'd try that particular speciality again in a hurry! Other than that we have visited Yamadera, a gorgeous town an hour from Sendai which involved a sweaty one-thousand-step climb to a shrine on a mountain-top, but the spectacular views once we got there were well worth it! We've also visited a dormant volcano (not quite Fuji but beautiful nonetheless) and a couple of very impressive waterfalls, as well as painting our own traditional Japanese-style dolls in Akiu! Tonight is in fact our last evening in Sendai! :( We've had so much fun here meeting all of Jonathan's friends (everyone absolutely loves him, which is nice to know!), and eating, drinking and karaoke-ing in copious amounts! But tomorrow we set off for Tokyo before heading to Hiroshima and then further south again...So really the adventures are just beginning! Lots of love to you all and thanks for all the emails! I'll be in touch again soon! Lucy xxx